Do you have a kid in your life? Does this kid like, or even better, LOVE to play with light switches? Is this kid preferably around 18 months-old? Then he probably would like a box with not one, but two light switches that turn on and off not one, but TWO lights! It's a genius idea, and if you were a good friend to a couple with a light switch-loving kid, then you'd make them one! It's super easy, I promise.
The idea for this project came from a post on Reddit. It's a great idea and I figured it would be a great last minute present to my nephew who, of course, loves light switches.
It's very simple, it only took me about an hour and a half not counting the trip to the hardware store and taking pics. You will need some prerequisite knowledge in addition to the materials:
- Confidence with a hot-glue gun and its safe use.
- Basic knowledge of electricity.
The tools you will need are:
- Drill w/drill bits
- Dremel or other rotary tool with cut-off wheel
- Soldering iron
- Hot glue gun
The tools except for the hot glue gun are all optional since you could accomplish the same goals with another approach. For example, you might be able to cut into the plastic tub with a serrated knife, but I find the rotary tool to be more convenient. Soldering is also not necessary as long as you do a good job making the wire connections and insulating them with hot glue. Since this project is intended to be handed to a child, I would not recommend leaving the connections uncovered.
- Light switch cover
- Light switches
- Plastic tub with lid wide enough to fit cover
- Stranded copper wire
- LED lights
- Battery holder for 2 AAA batteries
- 2 AAA batteries
The LED lights, the battery holder, and copper wire could all be salvaged from old toys, cable boxes, remotes, or other electronics. Otherwise, radioshack and local electronics stores should have all of these. The reddit post mentioned the use of a 9 volt battery. You could use a 9 volt, but I would recommend adding resistors (220 ohm should work).
Step 1: Cut...
Place the cover on the lid however you think is best. Mark the holes for the screws and drill. Do the same with the toggle holes. My switches had a weird shape to them so that when I tightened them to the cover, they would not be flush. So I just made the holes bigger to accommodate the shape. If everything fits ok, you can tighten it down and make sure it doesn't move.
Find the placement of the LED's you'd like, and drill those out as well. Press-fit the LED's to make sure they will stay. Make sure you can identify the positive and the negative side of the LED's. You could orient both positives to the same side at this point to not get confused in the future.
Step 2: And Paste
The schematic is pretty simple. There will be a wire going from the positive side of the batteries to one screw of both switches. The other side of the switches will have a wire going to the positive leg of the LEDs. Each negative leg will go to the negative side of the battery. That's it! You can do a really good knot on the connections, or solder at this point. Now is the time to test your creation. Make sure both lights work as desired and get your glue gun and glue everything down! I glued my battery to the side, but you could put it anywhere. Make sure the lights get a good helping of glue, no poky bits out!
Step 3: Conclusion
The build was very fun, and I already have ideas for improvements. The original post implied that the box would be closed. This seems wasteful since it's so much space and the electronics and parts are not dangerous except for the batteries' choking hazard. This could be avoided with a 9 volt, but the 9 volt could still be swallowed and the voltage between the terminals is much closer, and can give a painful shock to wet skin, especially the tongue. Since this is a Christmas gift and it's still the eve, I will encase the electronics with a simple screwed-down enclosure. This way, the box can be used to store other toys! When it's time to change the batteries (long time), they can get a screwdriver to get the recessed screws out.
Thank you for reading, happy DIY'ing!